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Analyse the concept of manliness and the way it is represented in Miller’s, ‘A View From the Bridge’. There are many themes contained inside the theatrical drama of ‘A View From The Bridge’. There are also some ideas that add to the drama of the play, keeping the audience in suspense. The ideas of manliness, hostility and aggression are connected in this play as they all relate to the main character, Eddie Carbone. These three ideas often cause conflicts throughout the play; they are the cause of many of the disastrous happenings and the unfolding tragedy. Manliness suggests being tough, physical and the protector of the family. This then leads onto being hostile, which in itself progresses onto an aggressive act causing conflict and distance between different characters.
A View From The Bridge is a play written by Arthur Miller, and each of these themes are explored in different ways. These themes are often expressed throughout the characters actions, speech and play a major role in the development of the play as each character interlinks with these themes and progress on. Eddie, the main character of the play, is a simple person who is a victim of many states of affairs: but he also contributes to his own downfall because of the beliefs he has about the role of man.
When others do not conform to his ideas it often leads to conflict. The idea of manliness greatly applies to Eddie as he play’s the protagonist and has a very particular view of what it means to be a man and this comes from his Sicilian origins. All Sicilian men believed that they must look after their family, have love for their wife, respect dignity and honor. They felt that being a man was very important, as it offers you a higher status; their hierarchy was based around level of masculinity rather the money. As well as being the protagonist, he is the head of the household, which further shows his masculine authority.
Coming from a Sicilian background, he sees himself in the traditional role of the male breadwinner, the head of the household and is used to getting his own way. He believes that being the man of the house means he should be confronted in all matters. He demands a certain type of respect from the others, which at first we do not see as a threat as Catherine and Beatrice conform to these demands. Also, he has this idea that he has to be consulted before any decisions are to be made in his house; this is shown when he is talking to Catherine about her new job offer as a stenographer. Eddies response is, ‘Why didn’t you ask me before you took the job?’ This shows how he wants Catherine to ask his permission, even though she is now old enough to make her own decisions. He feels threatened by the idea that Catherine wants to enter the adult world of work and responsibility. An aspect of manliness is to keep emotions bottled up, as ‘real men’ do not show their true feelings and emotions.
As the play commences, Eddie is already demonstrating his authority within the household. When Catherine is showing Eddie her new style of walking, Eddie does not respond in a gentle manner, “Now don’t aggravate me Katie, you’re walkin’ wavy!” this shows how Eddie has strong views on certain things and how protective he is of Catherine. Further, to demonstrate Eddie’s authority, the stage directions in the play show how Catherine ‘was almost in tears because he disapproves.’
This portrays how Eddie’s opinion was considered to be very important in the household. As this scene continues, the audience observes the way in which Eddie acts and how his domineering role in the family creates a fear in the minds of others. When the subject of Rodolfo and Marco arises, Beatrice becomes very reluctant in asking Eddie if they can stay with them. We later find out that she is frightened at what Eddie may do if things do not turn out as planned, ‘I’m just afraid that if it don’t turn out good, you’ll be mad at me.’ Clearly, from his quote, the audience can see what effect Eddie has on Beatrice.
Nonetheless, Eddie’s Sicilian background interlinks with his ideas of manhood as the foundations of his family encourage him to be manly and work to provide for the family. Eddie argues and questions Marco’s and Rodolpho’s presence in America when saying, ‘If he’s come here to work, then he should work; if he’s come here for a good time then he could fool around’. Conversely, the sparring of words is supplemented by physical action, known as aggression.
Catherine hits at Eddie by inviting Rodolpho to dance with her, immediately aggravating Eddie. Eddie counters this by giving Rodolpho a lesson in boxing. This is no crude beating up; he pretends to be pleased with Rodolpho’s progress but the real hostility is ill- concealed beneath the show of friendly encouragement, and at the end the motive is evident to Rodolpho, when he betrays the relatives and goes against the Sicilian law. Though he protests that he was not hurt only surprised- by a hard blow.